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San Diego State University

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Professor helps SDSU artists find
inspiration in the south of France 

By Michael Klitzing

When it comes to life in France, Eva Struble is something of an expert. She studied abroad in Paris as an undergraduate, received a grant to research abstraction in French art while in graduate school, and twice travelled to hike the Pyrenees.

Oh, and did we mention she spent a couple of weeks in the south of France making cheese on a goat farm?


Yes, a goat farm.


“Those were really important experiences for my development as a human being,” said Struble, assistant professor of painting and printmaking in the School of Art and Design.


“So it’s a nice thing to be able to share with my students now.”


This summer Struble will be the faculty leader for Study Art Abroad in France, a new program that will be hosted by the Marchutz Art School at Institute for American Universities (IAU) College in Aix-en-Provence.  While the program is geared for artists (credit is offered for Introduction to Advanced Painting), no art experience is necessary to take part. Students will live with host families during the three week stay (June 25 through July 17), immersing them in the local culture and French language.


For the aspiring painter, there can hardly be a better location than Aix-en-Provence. The small southern college town, located half an hour from the cosmopolitan city of Marseilles, was home to many impressionists, including Cezanne. Struble said she’s planning an optional hiking trip to one of Cezanne’s famous inspirations – Mont Sainte-Victorie.


But Struble – who in her own art incorporates abstract or surreal qualities into rural and urban landscapes – sees more benefits to developing artists than just walking in the footsteps of the legends.


“Being able to spend time outside and develop a special bond with a small group of people has been very productive for my life in general, whether it’s my happiness or wellbeing or just learning from those types of relationships,” she said. “A lot of us have trouble separating ourselves from our phones and computers for even an hour, so to be able to spend this time making something with your hands that’s not about the digital world is really valuable.”


Living abroad – whether in Australia, France or Senegal – has long been part of Struble’s life, and she certainly sees the value. She said her time outside the U.S. makes up a large part of the experiences – “both good and bad” – that make her work what it is today. She hopes this program will serve as similar inspiration for SDSU artists for years to come.


“I would love for this to be something that could be really special and specific to the School of Art and Design,” Struble said. “Something that could be passed down.” 


Close ties

Students taking part in the Study Abroad in France program will be doing so at an institution that has forged a close bond with SDSU after last November’s Paris attacks. In the wake of the tragedy, School of Art and Design director Kotaro Nakamura created a French flag which was inscribed with messages of condolences from SDSU students. Officials from IAU visited SDSU in late November and were presented the flag as a gift of friendship. The flag is now on display at the Aix-en-Provence campus.


Details

For more information about Study Art Abroad in France or to attend an upcoming informational session, contact estruble@mail.sdsu.edu. The application deadline for summer study abroad programs is March 15. To search a list of other available programs and destinations, visit Aztecs Abroad and create your profile.

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